Breast Reduction Risks and Side Effects

by Trudi Schrieber

Breast Reduction Risks and Side Effects

Breast reduction is a popular procedure that can free women from the strain and potential health risks of very large breasts; such as chronic back pain. Breast reductions are performed widely, and are usually quite safe. Like any surgery, however, breast reduction surgery involves potential risks and side effects that you and your surgeon should discuss prior to surgery.

When considering breast reduction risks, individuals should keep in mind that by selecting an experienced plastic surgeon, the possibility of encountering risks and side effects is greatly reduced. Additionally, patients should follow the instructions of their doctor closely, to ensure a safe, healthy breast reduction recovery. Some potential risks of breast reduction surgery include:

  • Anesthesia reaction—All surgeries involve a potential risk of reaction to anesthesia.
  • Asymmetry—Another risk of breast reconstruction is that breasts may not be completely symmetrical afterward. In particular, the placement of the nipples may not be completely even.
  • Bleeding—Episodes of bleeding can occur after surgery, though unusual. The risk of major bleeding is only about three percent.
  • Inability to breastfeed—During breast reduction surgery, most milk ducts leading to the nipple are removed, impeding the ability to breastfeed.
  • Nipple sores—Some patients will experience small sores around the nipples after surgery, but these are easily treated with antibiotic cream.
  • Skin necrosis—Loss of blood supply to the nipple and areola, can occur, though rare. Loss of blood supply leads to tissue death. The nipple and areola can usually be rebuilt from skin grafts taken from other parts of the body.
  • Change in nipple color—Sometimes the color of the nipple will change permanently.
  • Fat Necrosis—This occurs when tissue in the breasts forms lumps. It is more common in individuals who have larger resections.
  • Infection—Possible with any surgery, infections are treated immediately with antibiotics. In very rare cases, infection can lead to death. Risk of infection is less than two percent.
  • Sensory change or numbness—Individuals will often experience a change in sensation of the breasts, particularly in the nipple. Sensation usually returns to the area 1-2 months after surgery. In a small number of instances, loss of sensation is permanent.
  • Hematoma & Seroma—Hematoma is a collection of blood that collects in the breast tissue after breast reduction. Seroma is fluid that arises from Hematoma. Drains are inserted during surgery to drain excess blood and prevent Seroma. However, after drains have been removed, patients may experience Hematoma and may need to have excess fluid drained from the breast.
  • Scarring—Scars are permanent but generally fade with time. Your surgeon will use techniques designed to keep scarring to a minimum, and will make incisions in areas easily hidden by swimsuits and undergarments. Keloids, or heavy scars, are uncommon.
  • Wound separation—This occurs when incisions pull apart, and is treated with moist dressings. Patients experiencing wound separation should expect a longer recovery time.

It is highly important to understand that breast reduction risks and side effects are highly unusual. Most of the risks associated with breast reduction can be avoided by selecting an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, who will take utmost care to ensure your safety. It is important to discuss your medical history with your surgeon openly, as some candidates are not good for breast reduction surgery, and may have heighted potential to experience risks associated with breast reduction. Women who are not good candidates for breast reduction surgery include those with breast cancer, uncontrolled diabetes, cellulitis, or hardened or broken breast skin. Additionally, breast reduction risks are higher in those with poor circulation, heart, lung, or liver disease, or smokers.

To learn more about the risks of breast reduction surgery, and whether you are a good candidate, contact Plastic Surgery Portal. Our representatives will set up your personal consultation with an experienced, board-certified breast surgeon. He or she will discuss your medical history and your candidacy for breast reduction.

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